In 1983, a young Steve Jobs gave a tech talk at the International Design Conference in Aspen, Colo. and added some now-historical gems into what was dubbed the "Aspen Time Tube."
The time capsule was supposed to be unearthed in the year 2000, but the landscape had evolved so much in Aspen that it was lost for another 13 years. That's where the National Geographic Channel's TV show, "Diggers," comes in.
The capsule had been buried somewhere on the grounds of the Aspen Institute which hosted the IDC conference, but years later the property came to be owned by the Aspen Music Festival and School, and some of the markers pointing to the capsule's location had disappeared.
An excavation led by Basalt architect Harry Teague -- who was part of the group that originally buried the capsule -- and "Diggers" archeologist Michael Durkin were finally able to locate the capsule last Thursday using the original coordinates and "good, old-fashioned math," according to the press release.
The 13-foot capsule ended up holding the mouse from Apple's first mass-marketed Lisa computer, along with a Rubik’s Cube, an eight-track recording of The Moody Blues, a June 1983 copy of Vogue Magazine and a six-pack of Balantine beer meant for whoever dug up the capsule's contents.
“When we buried the capsule in 1983 at the IDCA conference titled ‘The Future Is Not What It Used to Be,’ it was scheduled to be unearthed in 20 years. We had no idea it would be 30 before we would finally get around to digging it up,” said Teague. “I’m sure it’s loaded with things of cultural and historic import, but the mouse from one of his new Apple Lisa computers that Steve Jobs threw in at the last minute has to be one of the more iconic items.”
A recording of Jobs, who was just 28 years old when he spoke at the conference, presents some of his first visions of the iPad.
“We will find a way to put (a computer) in a shoebox and sell it for $2,500, and finally, we’ll find a way to put it in a book,” Jobs said at the time.
During his talk, Jobs also broke his explanation of what a computer is into three parts and gave an idea of what the field looked like in the early 80s:
What is a computer? It's really simple. It's just a simple machine, but it's a new type of machine. The gears, the pistons have been replaced with electrons. How many of you have ever seen an electron? That's the problem with computers, is that you can't get your hands on the actual things that are moving around. You can't see them, so they tend to be very intimidating because in a very small space there's billions of electrons running around and we can't really get a hold on exactly what they look like.
Computers are very adaptive, it's a very adaptive machine and we can move the electrons around differently to different places depending upon the current state of affairs, results, of the last time we moved the electrons around. So if you were here last night and you heard about how the brain is very adaptive -- the computer is very adaptive.
The second thing about a computer is it's very new. It was invented 36 years ago in 1947. The world's first degree in computer science offered by a university, which was the University of California at Berkeley -- it was a masters degree -- was offered in 1968. Which means that the oldest person who has a degree in computer science is 39 years old. And the average age of professionals at Apple is under 30. So it's a field that's dominated by fairly young people.
Third thing about computers: they're really dumb. They're exceptionally simple, but they're really fast.
The "Diggers" episode featuring the Aspen Time Tube being unearthed is scheduled to air in early 2014.